Introduction

South Africa is faced with the challenge of closing the gap between its developed and developing economies, while ‘decoupling’ the growth of the economy as a whole, namely maintaining the growth with declining material (and energy) throughput, and with associated benefits such as improving the carbon emissions balance of the economy. To this end, a national requirement exists to be able to make long-term policies and decisions in this globally turbulent environment characterised by constrained planetary resources. Our conventionally established business models and mental models (which include cognitive maps and plans) do not include feedback loops and time delays to assist in understanding changing patterns over time and underlying structures so that suitable leverage points can be established to effect changes and bridge the risk-uncertainty gap. Modelling and simulation provides the necessary support for such policy- and decision-making. System dynamics, specifically, is considered an appropriate approach to analyse the transitions that are required in the South African context and allows for the merging of organizational empirical history with scenario-based simulations of future trends through management flight simulators, sensitivity analysis, the understanding of behavioural characteristics in the system, and the formulation of tracking metrics It has been used in diverse fields in South Africa, for over two decades, and continues to be a modelling choice to investigate complex issues. However, until now, there has been no national platform to facilitate cross-practitioner learning and capacity development in system dynamics modelling. Hence, at the annual conference of the International System Dynamics Society in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the need was articulated to form a South African System Dynamics Chapter – as part of the Society. The Policy Council of the Society approved the formation of the Chapter, following the establishment of its Constitution in January 2014. As stipulated in the Constitution, a Policy Council has been convened, with the first elected members – as laid out in the table below – to initiate the activities of the Chapter. The first annual meeting of the Chapter – aimed for November 2014 – will be used to re-elect the various positions. The priority of the Chapter is to establish a newsletter amongst its membership to disseminate the on-going research and applications of system dynamics in the country. Another mandate includes the formalisation of a national, annual conference to build capacity in the formulation of systems dynamics simulations and general systems thinking principles in South Africa with the objectives of stimulating an integrated learning culture while encouraging institutional participation. All researchers and practitioners in South Africa are therefore encouraged to join the Chapter and participate in establishing and enhancing system dynamics capacity in the country. Further information on the Chapter can be found here: http://chapters.systemdynamics.org/south-africa/